Thursday, August 16, 2012

All I Want for Ramadan

As salaam alaikum,

As I approach my last two nights of the night shift, I find myself getting accustomed to being a day zombie and night warrior. And by night warrior, I mean ambling around the hospital at 2am to answer a page about a patient, wrapping my fleece around me to prevent the shivers as my body tries to convince me to sleep.

Anyway, I'll be glad when nights end. I spend most of my morning sleeping then most of my day lounging around. My seniors suggest that I do nights next year during Ramadan, because that would "be perfect." No, thank you. There are various reasons why Ramadan this year was a little haphazard (or a lot haphazard, heh) compared to years past, part of that is my fault, but night shift disrupts Ramadan for me. It disrupts the spirit of fasting if I'm sleeping part of the day away to work a 12 hour shift at night.

Plus, it's very hard to sleep during the day without taking sleep aids, and if you're fasting, you can't take sleep aids. Having to stop eating by 4:30am also means no caffeine to get you through the rest of your shift when you have to go until 11:00am (that's me on Saturday, iA!).

So no, night shift is not ideal for Ramadan. Next year, iA, I'll do an outpatient month or something. That way, I'll be sure to be able to do my reading that year. Insha'Allah I also plan to check out the mosque in Northgate at some point; looks like Eid is going to be held at a convention center. Having a car makes this easier, but working most days does not help.

Ramadan has been a little bit isolated this year because I don't have my medical school Muslim group weekly iftars or local MSA events to sample, but interestingly, it's been one of my least lonely Ramadans on record. I am super happy about my residency program, I've made family here with my co-residents, I'm learning a lot...I've given up on marriage...

And really, I could not be happier.

Ramadan for me is not only a time of reflection, of prayer, of God-consciousness, of self-control, but it's also always been a miraculous time for me. It's a time when Satan is at bay, when God will answer all of the prayers of those who fast and remember Him...and I take advantage of that every year to pray for myself and my family, about anything that's going on in the world, anything pressing.

Because while I believe that God always answers prayers, I felt like Ramadan held greater promise. Ramadan, I was more focused.

So for the last several Ramadans, many of my prayers had to do with marriage, future spouses, etc. Every salat with some istikhara in between. And every year, the same yield. But I was convinced that when the time was actually right, God would provide. I always am, always will be. Unless it is not God's desire for me to marry, which is also a possibility.

But if Ramadan is a time when all of your prayers are answered, why is this one never answered? Was I doing things incorrectly? Did I wait too long to make up my missed days from menstruation?

The fact of the matter is...Ramadan is still a special time for me, a time when God's grace feels ever nearer. But it's just like every other day of the year when prayers are not answered in a way that is apparent to you or in a time that is what you desire. Every other prayer I've prayed to God has been answered in a self-evident way. When I prayed about marriage, all I got was an empty feeling in return.

So I gave up. I prayed about it in the beginning of Ramadan, but I lost heart. I lost heart and I lost resolve. And maybe it's okay. Ramadan isn't like my personal Christmas and God is not Santa Claus. Ramadan is greater and God is Greater and why I couldn't get married is just something I'll never understand.

So I didn't want anything in particular this Ramadan, but the preservation of the blessings I've already been given. Health, vitality, that of my family and friends, safety...the ability to carry out my duties as a new physician, the intellect necessary to improve as time goes on...

And I pray for a better Ramadan next year, one that is more replete with God-consciousness and in that, blessings for myself and my loved ones. One that is more pure, not as disjoint and interrupted as this one has been. I should give myself somewhat of a break, because I changed cities and am working for the first time, but on the other hand, it's so disjoint because of deliberate choices that I've made...

All I want for Ramadan is for God to have mercy on me as I stumble forward in life, being less the woman I had the potential to be, being less the believer that I can be, making mistakes...getting lost. Being my worse enemy. Realizing my personal failure.

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